State Budget Requires 13% Increase in School Property Taxes

Texas Municipal League
Wednesday, July 19, 2017

State Budget Requires 13% Increase in School Property Taxes

The Texas Municipal League has long maintained that proposed revenue caps on cities and counties are just a smokescreen to hide the state’s mismanagement of school finance (here and here).  High property taxes are caused by the state continuing to demand that school districts pay for an increasing share of education through local property taxes.

Now there’s clear proof that this is true.  The following is actual language on public education funding from the state budget bill, S.B 1, that was passed by the Legislature in May:

“Property values, and the estimates of local tax collections on which they are based, shall be increased by 7.04 percent for tax year 2017 and by 6.77 percent for tax year 2018.”

You read that right.  To make up for lowered school funding using state money, the legislature passed and the governor signed, a budget dictating that property values, and the school property taxes derived from them, must go up by almost fourteen percent over the next two years.  Can the state simply wave its magic wand and, presto, home values go up by a certain amount?  Apparently so, especially if you’re intentionally under-funding schools with state dollars.

Now, consider that the mandated school property tax increases — 7.04 percent and 6.77 percent — are both higher than the 5 percent annual increase allowed for cities and counties under the Senate’s proposed revenue cap in S.B. 2 from the regular session.  Will the state hold an election of the citizens to approve those two school property tax increases?  Of course not.  Instead, some state leaders will attempt to pass a revenue cap on cities and counties during the special session now underway, hoping to shift the blame and divert attention from what’s really going on behind the school funding curtain.